Afrique Ameriques Asie Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
 
France26 February 2008

Bill to reinforce protection for journalists’ sources discussed with justice ministry

Reporters Without Borders met with justice ministry officials yesterday to discuss a draft government bill to reinforce protection for the confidentiality of journalists’ sources. While welcoming the improvements contained in the bill, which is to be published in mid-March after the Council of State has given its view, the press freedom organisation voiced its reservations about the restrictions to be placed on this protection.

Under the draft law, the judicial authorities would be able to violate the confidentiality of journalists sources “on an exceptional basis” and “in the framework set by the law” and only when the “nature and gravity of the offence justify it.” Reporters Without Borders thinks these provisions are too vague and would allow investigators and judges to restrict the law’s application.

Reporters Without Borders said the restrictions on the protection of sources needed to be more specific. The organisation would like them to be better defined and more protective for journalists, as they are in a Belgian law, which says “journalists may only be forced to identify [their] sources of information (...) if they are likely to prevent offences being committed that pose a serious threat to a person’s physical safety” or that are acts of terrorism.

The Belgian law also says that the information must of “crucial importance for preventing these offences from being committed.”

The French draft law would also reinforce provisions concerning searches of journalists’ homes. A judge would have to present and the journalists would be able to object to the seizure of files, including computer files. If an objection was made, the files would be placed under seal and the decision on whether or not the seizure could go ahead would be taken by an independent, specialist judge at a hearing at which both the journalist and investigating judge were present.

The draft bill, which is to be incorporated into article 2 of an 1881 law on press freedom, would guarantee the confidentiality of sources for all journalists as broadly defined in the labour law. This definition includes online media employees. Reporters Without Borders pointed out to the justice ministry that it does not however include bloggers or local press contributors.

Reporters Without Borders also proposed that the new law should be accompanied by specific training in its application for police and gendarmerie investigators.




  In this country
29 May - France
Regrettable decision by appeal court to lift ban on magazine only if offending photo is covered up
12 May - France
TV reporter cleared of inciting teenager in body piercing “suspension”
2 April - France
“Dangerous trend” condemned after anti-crime unit questions four journalists over Sarkozy video
26 March - France
Two website journalists summoned for questioning about Sarkozy video
4 March - France
Anger over new case of journalists being treated as “police auxiliaries or even criminals”

in the annual report
France - Annual Report 2008
France - Annual report 2007
France - 2006 Annual report

Europe press releases
4 June - Kosovo
Rrokum TV station still excluded by national broadcasting network
2 June - Ukraine
Potential witness’s death deals severe blow to probe into journalist’s murder
2 June - Turkey
Woman journalist held for past five weeks on baseless charge of link to armed group
2 June - Russia
Journalist seeks asylum in Finland after being convicted for prison torture articles
28 May - Azerbaijan
Court breaks law by refusing to release journalist on health grounds

Reports
5 February 2009 - Bulgaria
“Resignation or resistance, Bulgaria’s embattled press hesitates”
28 January 2009 - Russia
Fact-finding visit : Moscow double murder may have been linked to November attack on local newspaper editor
27 June 2008 - Turkey
Investigation report into the detention of journalist Haci Bogatekin, imprisoned for more than two months and facing ten and a half years in prison
archives

Sign the petitions
Uzbekistan
Jusuf Ruzimuradov

Europe archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives